LIVING WITH DISGRACE
Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” Genesis 30:22-23
To be barren in Rachel’s culture was to live as one scorned. Barrenness was believed to be a curse and you were an embarrassment to your husband. This time of disgrace wasn’t a short season for Rachel. While she languished under her veil of shame, Leah, Jacob’s other wife, bore him six children. At one point Rachel turned to an aphrodisiac to boost fertility but that proved ineffective.
Why do seasons of shame and disgrace often span a decade or two? They don’t usually last a year. God appears to be out of the picture completely –ignoring the oppressed. While none of us can know the full mind of God, the stories of those like Rachel, Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth give great clues as to God’s purposes. When a wilderness marks a large portion of someone’s life, is God in the process of redemption? The answer is always yes. Redemption of ‘what’ can only be discerned by the one oppressed.
For Rachel, I believe it was for her to know that God was her miracle worker, her provider. Had she easily born Jacob children, she wouldn’t have given a second thought to things like faith and prayer. When she finally did give birth to Joseph, she credited the Lord, not the power of the mandrakes.
I have known seasons of affliction. None of them were short. All taught me perseverance, the power of prayer, and the nature of the wilderness. While great spiritual things prevailed at the end, the beginnings and middle of these seasons were pretty ugly. I had no clue how to navigate the years.
You may be living in an atmosphere of disgrace. Perhaps you are not the child your parents wanted and you are still shamed even though your parents are aged. Maybe you are the not the wife, or husband, your spouse really thinks you should be. Criticism is your daily companion. How do you survive the barrage of corrections and insults? God wants to change the heart of your scorner, and he does if they’re willing. Many, however, live and die without knowing how to love. Hear this! Your survival doesn’t depend on them. It depends on God at work in your own heart.
Unless you cultivate a relationship with God that involves experience beyond Bible study, you will not be able to weather it well. You must know how to draw near to God in prayer, how to meditate to restore peace to your churning soul, and how to make Jesus your daily bread and living water. Living in the shelter of His wings so that His whispers are palpable is the only security against the barrage of comments coming from the other side of the room. God is your Lover and Sustainer.
I lift each person reading this up to You as a small child. Break through the fog of pain to bathe them in Your presence. Amen
Journal Question: The years can drag on and on when life is defined by disgrace. Can you entertain the thought that God wants to do something stunning in the midst of dark times? Tell him that you need His personal encouragement today. Be specific.